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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 10, 2013 7:00pm-7:30pm EST

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.. >> and now from the university of pennsylvania, booktv sat down with michael x. deli or carpini to discuss his book, "after broadcast news." looking at the television and
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print sources that support it. this 20 minute interview is part of booktv's college series. >> host: well, booktv on c-span2 is on location at the university of pennsylvania in philadelphia. we are in the annenberg school of communication currently, and joining us is the dean of the annenberg school, michael x. delli carpini. dean delli carpini, what is the annenberg school of communication? is. >> guest: well, we're a free-standing school, one of 12 hoar at penn, and we do research, both research for the public consumption and for scholarly work. and ph.d. training and undergraduate training on the way in which media and communication influence social practices, political practices, health practices and cultural practices. >> host: well, we're here specifically to talk to you about your most recent book, "after broadcast news: media
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regimes, democracy and the new information environment." but it seems that for the last 20 to 30 years we've been debating the after broadcast news scenario. how do you assess it? >> well, um, what we're trying to do in this book is put it into a little bit of an historical context. so our basic argument is that over the last 20 years there have been a number of changes, some of them slow, some of them more quick, that are changing the way in which we think about where we get public affairs information from. and the three big changes that we think are going on are the blurring of news and entertainment, so think the daily show -- although it's more than that -- the blurring of producers and consumers; there think about the impact that twitter and that youtube had in the iranian or the middle eastern arab spring revolutions,
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but also in american elections. and the third is the blurring of fact and opinion. we lived in an era prior to this where we thought there was a clear line between when journalists were presenting us factual information from a neutral or father or perspective -- fair perspective and when we were hearing opinions. that has broken down. and those three changes, we think, have been driven by a variety of things, not the least of which is the technological revolution that we've undergone over the last 20 years. >> host: professor, have we lost important gatekeepers of news, in your view? >> guest: i think that is one of the central themes of the book which is that we now live in a world that we call somewhat nerdily multiaxialty. what we mean by that term is really pretty simple which is the ways in which information can become public information and paid attention to by a lot
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of people is much more fluid, there are many more gates than there used to be. you could argue that you don't even need gates because the walls have come down. so where we get information from, what becomes newsworthy or important, what goes viral is very, very different from what used to be the case. in the period just prior to this era. but the other larger point we're trying to make is that we can't just compare what we have now to what preceded it the 50 years of broadcast news. if you look more historically, we've actually had four or five different media regimes as we call them in which the relationship between the media, citizens and political elites have been different. and so if we want to assess what's good or bad about the current environment, we need to look not just at what we've lost or gained compared to broadcast news, but what we've lost or gained compared to the era of realism in the 19th century or
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the partisan press of the early 19th and late 18th century or the progressive era. so we've really gone through these changes before, and the issue in front of us is not is it good or is it bad, but what's good about it, what's bad about it and how do we maintain what's good about it and try to limit what's bad about it? >> host: well, let's go to the title of your book, "after broadcast news," let's go to the historical set. what have we lost in this new era as opposed to the abc, nbc, cbs era? >> guest: right. >> host: which was an era. >> guest: and i think we've lost some senate things. and i should say lost, we've been talking about this for 20 years. we're still transitioning, and so those stations, those news networks still exist. but when we live inside an era which we did in the '50s and '60s and to some extent all the way up to the '90s where we as a society, we as citizens believed that if we, if we watched the local news and then
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the national news an hour or so period in the early evening, um, that we would have of the information we need, basically, to be good citizens. and what we've lost by not having that is the authority that comes with gatekeepers, somebody whose job it is to sift through all the information that happens and all the things that happen in a day, in a 24-hour period and say, okay, we're professionals, we've thought about this, we have journalists, we are going to tell you from all this information what we think you should be paying attention to. so we lose that. and and that's a nice thing to have. and we lose the fact that, for the most part, at the height of the broadcast era the vast majority of the american public was thinking about the same set of issues. we were a community. you know, for better or worse we were all thinking about the issues that those three stations and a few major newspapers and magazines were telling us were the things we should focus on, and that allows for some focus,
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an agenda. that allows for us as a community of citizens to think about issues in a kind of, and all have the same basic, underlying understanding of this. >> host: michael x. delli carpini, what have we gained in this new era? >> guest: well, what we've gained is let me start by saying the downside to the system that i i just described which is if that handful of journalists and editors and producers and stations got it wrong, if they didn't emphasize something that was arguably important to a lot of people or they got their facts wrong or they were presenting something even as they attempted to be neutral and objective in a way that was biased, we all got that. so we moved -- we sunk or swim with three networks and a handful of other major news outlets. in this environment everybody is watching everybody else, if you want to think of it that way. that there is no single authoritative source, so we lose that sense of we're all in
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agreement, but that also means that there's real opportunities for voices that in the past would not have been heard for topics in the past would not have made it onto the national agenda to actually make it on the agenda and to become important because someone other than that handful of professional journalists told us it was important. >> host: so, dean, do you feel we're better informed today than 20, 30, 40 -- >> guest: that's an interesting question. i would say we are still in a period and the potential for being more informed is greater now than it used to be, but there's no evidence that we are better informed. i also do work in the area of what people know about politics, and the current evidence suggests that at best we're about as informed as we were in the broadcast era. and at worst we may be in a situation -- and this is one of the downsides of the new information environment -- where people who care about politics are better informed because
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there are so many places to go, but there are equally as many places to opt out of politics entirely now. and so people who don't care about politics who want to simply watch entertainment purely in their 6 of to 7:00 -- 6 of to 7:00 time frame if they're still watch anything the normal way that we used to watch it, that those people can opt out of politics entirely. so the positive potential is we can be more informed about more things than we ever were. the downside, and we don't take a stance on this, we're arguing that both these are possible, the downside is that we can have a population of very informed people and people who are completely opting out of politics entirely. >> host: when you look at the current information revolution that we're all living through right now, is there a comparable period in history? >> guest: not that's completely comparable. that's an important point that we make in the book is that while we're comparing to the past, we think it's really important to realize there are
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things that are different. there has never been an opportunity for average citizens to be producers of information like we have today. and there's never been an opportunity for people to go to multiple sources, um, globally than it is today. and for the agenda to be a national, even a global agenda without the news media being responsible for it. but we have certainly had periods of partisan press, so we think about fox news and msnbc, the fact that they seem more enamored of their ideological views than the facts that underlie them. we've gone through a period very much like that where newspapers and other broad sheets were specifically allied with one party or another, said so right up front and actually, um, argued for or against particular points of view. we've had the equivalent of a matt drudge, the online gossip
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columnist, if you will, of politics. in the 18th century, there was a man named matt kohl lander the who did exactly the same thing in newspapers, so we've had that experience. we've had experience where the line between news and entertainment were completely blurred. so if the front page of a newspaper in the 19th century might have a news story, might have an opinion piece, might have a poem, might have a list of what's come in on the latest ship in the harbor, and it looked more like a web page than it looked like a newspaper that we were familiar with in the 20th century. so we have experienced pieces of all this. what we haven't experienced is it all coming together with this new technology that we have. >> host: what are your main news sources? >> guest: that's a really great question. so, um, i depend on a lot of sources. i tend not to watch the three broadcasts, and when i do, it's more as my role as an academic to see what they're doing. i will, um, watch the cable news
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shows, usually flipping between cnn, fox and msnbc partly because i want to hear what's happening, but also was i want to hear -- because i want to hear how they're spinning it, what their views are. probably by the time i get home at night i already know the news stories because i'm getting e-mail blasts from friends or i'm connected to various web sites that will present various news as it comes. my views tend to be more on the progressive side, so i'll read things like slate or the huffington post. what i think i do, um, even if i try to separate the parts that i do because i'm an academic and that i do as a citizen is kind of what we suggest in the book which i think we need to be news grazers. we need to sample from different sources. and i should add in that list "the daily show." i'm a regular viewer. >> host: what's the importance of the daily show, in your view, dean? >> guest: i think right now "the daily show" and to a somewhat
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lesser extent "the colbert report," both speak truth to power better than any journalist outlet that i know of, that they do a great job both highlighting what the important issues of the day are but critiquing both journalists and the political system on their, the honesty and straightforwardness and accuracy with which they present information. so i use it almost as an ombudsman of the political and media system right now. and it's really funny. i enjoy that. >> host: annenberg school of communications dean michael x. deli or carpini is our guest here on booktv on c-span2. dean delli carpini, you mentioned that you have progressive views or tend toward progressive views and look at the huffington post, slate, etc. are we in a period, also, of stovepiping our views? >> guest: there's a lot of evidence that that's happening. a lot of evidence that, um, readers and viewers now are
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gravitate towards news outlets that are most similar to their own. and so if you look at the viewership of fox news, it tends to be more conservative. msnbc tends to have more liberal. -- to be more liberal. there are some people who will go and watch something that's different from what they believe partly because it gets them worked up, um, which can also be an enjoyable part if you're a political junkie. but there is evidence of people beginning to fragment themselves into audiences that kind of create what kathleen jamison here at the annenberg calls an echo chamber where you're hearing views you already agree with. what i think is the great promise for breaking that are all the places we go to where we're not even looking for news but have newsworthy information in it. so after 9/11, um, whatever web site you went to there were, whether it was a sports web site or an entertainment web site,
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there was people talking about real world events. you go online because you have somebody in your family that has health issue, and you want to find out more about what the diagnosis might be, what the prognosis might be. you bump into information that tells you about health-related policy, and it leads you really quickly into public issues and political issues. so my hope is that, number one, people will attend to different points of view, though there's evidence they're not doing that as much as we would like. number two, that this larger information environment provides opportunities when you're really interested in many something to almost accidentally bump into politically-relevant information that can be useful for you as well. >> host: who is your co-author, bruce williams? >> guest: bruce williams is a full professor at the university of virginia in the media studies program there and someone that i have done work with for quite some time. we actually went to graduate school together at the university of minnesota. and bruce and i have been
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working on this, the first discussion about the idea of maybe writing something on this topic took place over 20 years ago when we first began to notice these changes. >> host: of what are you most excited when it comes to news dissemination today? what gets you going? >> guest: well, i think it is the opportunity for voices that have been outside the media agenda to speak, to be able to be heard. um, the greatest most recent example of that -- though there is a debate as to what role it played still -- is the arab spring. i mean, no doubt the arab spring was generated by years of concern of the public about their political freedoms, desire for more freedom, economic concerns. but the ability of it to develop, be organized and spread, i would argue, is a direct result of the ability of people through mobile technology
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to both speak to each other and organize and share ideas and thoughts and to speak to the outside world. so even when journalists had no access, there was of information coming out. information that needed to be assessed, but information that drew attention to issues that would have been quiet. that happens all the time at more, um, subtle ways. the various communities in the united states that are oftentimes ignored because of class issues or because of race issues or because of gender issues now have a powerful ability to get their message out, and i think that's what gets me most excited about this world. it's a more confusing world. it requires more of citizens to really understand and assess information. i still think we need gatekeepers. i still think we need professional journalists to help us with this. but i think it's a more chaotic, a more small d democratic world as a result.
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>> host: dean dellly carpini, in ten years from now will "the wall street journal," "the washington post," the aye times be around -- "the new york times" be around and important to our world? >> guest: yeah, so i think that's a hard question. i could be wrong, but my guess is they will not be around in any form that we recognize. i'm less concerned about that than i am are professional journalists around. we've got to separate how journalists share their information, what organizations do they work for, what kind of information do they provide, in what form? written, visual? is it on the web, is it on paper, is it on television? i'm less concerned about that than i am do we have an economic model and the will to make sure that in the mix of places we get information there's a place for people who are, whose job it is, who get paid and who have the training to help us sift through information. and that they will be one voice among many that, um, affect the
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way we think about and learn about the public world. >> host: is that one of the main questions your students ask you? >> guest: you can imagine that that's true both because -- well, first of all, often times the reaction i get especially from undergraduates is, so? because the world we're describing is a world that they grew up with, right? i mean, the first-year students that are at a school like penn or were born in, what, 1992. they grew up with this world. and so, um, it's less -- it's almost as if they want to know more about what the old world that you and i would think of as the way the media operates was like than try to understand this new world that we're in. but because we're a communications call they are, obviously, thinking many of them are interested inning with journalists. -- in being journalists. they want to contribute through communications and the media, so i think their issues are where do i do that five years from now, ten years from now. >> host: and you're watching
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booktv on c-span2, and we have been talking with the dean of the annenberg school of communication at the university of pennsylvania whose most recent book is "after broadcast news: media regimes, democracy and the new information environment." co-authored with virginia professor bruce williams. dean michael x. delli carpini, thank you for being on booktv on c-span2. >> guest: it's absolutely my pleasure. thank you. >> you're watching booktv on c-span2, 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. >> i want to move to the role of publishers in this new world. it used to be that publishers would take care of all distribution, they would take care of production, and they would provide the advance. and that series of services led them to take a very he hefty cua 95% cut. now, i now you don't need
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production because you can put it out on the web. you don't need an advance because it doesn't cost that much to write, or you can -- [inaudible] the advance to something like kick starter. and you don't need the distribution again because you can put it on the web. so what is the changing role of publishers in this new world where production and distribution and financing are starting to be taken by different technologies? >> so there's a lot in there, and let me kind of unpack it. first, i actually disagree fundamentally with a couple of things. um, there's production, distribution, costs and, um, you know, tasks involved whether it's digital or physical. i think it's a very common sort of misunderstanding. it's very easy to think that digital is free. and it's not. i mean, there's a lot of backlash, actually, if you will, over some of the early books. and we've got an extensive back
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list, thousands and thousands of titles that were converted. there's a conversion process that takes place, and there's a lot of care and feeding that must go into that because in the early days when you're literally scanning books to get them into an e-format, you just were not replicating the book properly. so first of all, there's still a production not just cost, but an entirely new competency around production of a digital book and presenting that properly. i'm actually looking at art and head of children's publishing who's smiling because she and i have these conversations all the time. when you talk about chirp's books and how -- children's books and how to produce something that is for color that, you know, conveys a gorgeous illustration that the artist intended -- >> but if that's true, surely that's only true for the first copy. >> correct. >> and every one thereafter is free. because there's no marginal cost to make ten million copies. >> right.
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you lose paper, printing, binding. >> so that's marginal cost -- >> yes. the margin call os of -- marginal cost of -- >> and shipping. >> and shipping. and warehousing. >> not necessarily. [laughter] [inaudible conversations] >> no, not necessarily. there's a, there is a deep infrastructure that is needed to support digital operations. the other thing i would mention about the state of publishing today is if you talk about the future of reading, the future of publishing, you know, where are e-books going to go, that's kind of the big question. will it be a complete swapping out of physical for the digital media as happens in music, for example, and in film -- photography, that is. in books i believe there's not going to be that swapping out 100% physical for digital.
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children's books are a great example of where there's a very, very strong desire to have a physical book to flip through with your child. now that's today. five, ten years from now, you know, we might be speaking on something different. but today publishers are in a world where they can't be jumping tracks from the physical to the digital wholly, truly supporting two businesses. so you're continuing to support the print business while continuing to support the digital business. underlying that is sort of a third business that you're, that you are cultivating which is getting to a place where we're not talking about the conversion of e-books. so merely taking what used to be in a physical form and now porting it over into a digital form, but the creation of digital products, the creation from really creating a digital product from conception, something that was initially conceived with the author, developed with the author to be a completely new digital product. so the role of publishers in that scenario -- because the one
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thing that you had sort of forgotten, i think, on the list of what publishers do, really the heart of what we do. it's the editorial. it's really bringing that story, you know, shaping that story with the author and bringing it to market in the best possible way. that still exists and exists, i think, in an even more exciting way when you talk about the creation of digital-only products. >> shaping the story may be the only role, actually, because there's almost nothing left after -- helping shape the story. >> that's just wrong! [laughter] i always wanted to get my john mclaughlin on. but seriously, you're wrong. [laughter] >> we're partners here. she's not my publisher, but she is a publisher. >> you might be. >> i'm happy, right? [laughter] i had a very explicit arrangement with harper about like who's doing what here. and, again, because i came more
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from a digital foundation, i was skeptical of everything. i can do that. i've got spell check, what have you got? [laughter] and it turns out i was wrong about a few things, i was right about a few things, and i learned a ton in the process. in terms of the editorial, having an editor was great. now, of course, i could have independently hired a great editor/writer to help me. i was happy to have the support of the person at harper, that was really cool. the distribution of the digital to still support the digital, that i ignored completely,? i basically got free advertising across the nation in, on book shelves. i can't buy that. no single person can afford to distribute 10, 15, 20,000 books into the hundreds and hundreds of bookstores and libraries all around the world. and digital-only doesn't do that. you cut off the physical marketing in that sense. so that helps support the digital. when they ran out of physical books, my e-book sales spiked. so there was, you know, there's
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a level of demand regardless of format. and people literally, you could see the charts, they switched over. but they would have probably gotten a physical one. and then the actual marketing of the thing, me and my campaign manager for the book, a guy named craig, we built this rabid internet army digital plan, and harper did the more traditional big media plan. and got me on msnbc and all these things that, again, individuals it's very hard. that's a network game. and that's a rolodex game. and there's a finite amount of people who can talk to a finite amount of people to make that sort of thing happen. and the flood of authors can't all pull that off on their own. so i, you know, found that i was wrong that publishers are useless. [laughter] and i was glad for it, you know? because we were splitting this here money, and i want to make sure that we're both doing manager. [laughter] something. and i learned a lot about, you know, the excitement, the upside and the limits of what, you know, individual authors or authors who create a collective
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or create their own digital presence. but there's a flood of readers, there's also a flood of writings in words or tweets, blogs, also books. there's just more books than ever. and how do you discover, how do you convince somebody that you're worth their time? you know? attention is the currency. and whether you spend it watching a cat, you know, play a fiddle on youtube -- [laughter] or reading about the future of blackness, like, that's an equal choice to some people. [laughter] right? and we're just competing for pixels, we're competing for real estate, we're competing for mental real estate, and there's so many extra writers competing for attention that a publisher, you know, who knows what they're doing can add a little extra weight on top of the individual kick starter, you know, moving artist or somebody who's got a blog platform, i'm going to print out my blog and call it a book. >> i think that's true, but you're an exception. because you wrote a bestseller.
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the shelf life of a book, i'm sure that cheryl would confirm this, is a matter of weeks or days. and most books don't make it into bookstores. we're living in a different world. now, i agree in this world publishers are crucial. i'm really worried about booksellers, however, because that middle person is beginning to disappear, and outfits like amazon are transforming the way books reach readers. and then there's a movement in the other direction that i think very few people have noticed. there were about 350,000 new titles published in the u.s. last year. that's a 6% increase over the previous year in paper. the book industry's actually doing very well, although publishers are always wringing their hands and saying it's the end of the world. [laughter] but compare with that


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